At this moment, while eating last night’s leftovers and looking out of the third-floor window of the building where I work, I’m a finger’s length across the threshold of being able to type out my thoughts. From 1 to 10, where 1 would mean I’m an immediate physical risk to myself and 10 being the happiest I could possibly be, I’m about a 3. Maybe 3.5
Holy relics, perhaps
The day got off to a rocky start. I lost my cool a little bit with the kids this morning. I’m not trying to understate how annoyed I got, but the anger and negativity settled right at the forefront.
When I feel like a 3 (which is “awful” according to my therapist), I have been able to use techniques I have learned to get back up to a 5.
- Meditate. Breathe in and breathe out. Focus on right now. Not what was or what will be.
- Find something positive in what’s bothering you. It’ll change your way of thinking, doing and feeling. There are two sides to everything.
- Think of what you’re thankful for. You can always complain in the same way you can always express gratitude.
I recoiled from those options, much in the same way a cursed being might shrink back from a crucifix. The truth is, maybe I want to feel negative, from time to time, even though it’s terrible for me.
This presents the newest wrinkle in dealing with the maelstrom in my mind. It’s like when you see someone who won’t help themselves and you think, well, they don’t want to get better. Why should I bother helping them?
Perversion of joy
I felt almost exultant as I wallowed in this tar-like feeling of negativity. Like I was the kid from “The Jungle Book” in the clutches of the constrictor. I listen to its subtle suggestions, enthralled. Unable and unwilling to get out of its squeeze.
Is this my new norm? Is this the man/father/husband I need to be? Of course, the rational answer has to be, “no.” But is rationality, like truth, a relative thing?
Not in this case. I have to get out of this muck. For myself, if not for my wife, kids, friends, others around me.
Getting these feelings out in the open effectively helps me see through their lies, illusions. Insert your favorite shadow/light v dark metaphor.
I need to be in the driver’s seat, with positivity to guide me. I accept all the negative things that go on because I have no control over them. I barely have control over myself.
The coils loosen from my mind. I can see, feel, think, act positively. I want to because I need to.
About the doodle
The last time I felt confident about something I drew was about 23 years ago. A buddy of mine got me into X-Men and we would talk about making up our own superheroes. He had a talent for drawing.
I had lived in the shadow of compliments one of my brothers would get for his drawing ability, and desperately wanted to be good at it. Back when you’re a kid, you have no personal sense of how “good” is a relative thing. You solely rely on the judgment of others. At least, that’s what I did.
(A story within a story, is that good or bad?)
So, one night (the night before Thanksgiving), I made several character sketches. These pages were complete with the heroes’ names, backstories and super powers. I had at least five or six of these sheets made that night. I was so excited to show my buddy the next day.
After Thanksgiving lunch was over, I got my mom’s permission to head over to his house. I grabbed my “portfolio.” I was sure he’d love them. Maybe they’d be a nice compliment to what he’d already come up with.
Not only did that little shit not like my work, he actually laughed at them. He was much smaller than me and I sometimes, as a grown man, regret not beating the shit out of him for that.
But now I know that what’s good, or pleasing to the eye, or whatever is relative. I know there are techniques that true painters and other visual artists use that make their work much better in most ways. But hey, my crappy doodle of the snake strangling a motherfucker got you to read this, right?